Non-Verbal Communication2

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After having understood the characteristic features of non-verbal communication, we will now examine the ways in which non-verbal messages are transmitted. The study of non -verbal communication can be broadly classified as:: Kinesics- -the study of facial expressions and body movements.

Proxemics- this refers to the study of use of physical space .

Paralanguage- the way we say, what we say.

Other forms of non-verbal communication include-The use of time, dress and grooming, silence and colour.


Human beings communicate a lot through facial expressions and body movements. Kinesics is the study of this kind of communication  . Let’s see how our facial  expressions and body movements convey different messages effectively.

Facial expressions: The face plays an important part in communicating various emotions. The forehead , eyebrows , eyes, the nose ,the lower face all put together create a gamut of expressions. The emoticons that express our feelings  :-),:-( , ;-) ,are handy when we have to express our pleasure or displeasure instantly.The eyes of all parts of the face are used to give information. Eyes are very pivotal in conveying subtle messages. Eyes have been a source of inspiration to many a poets. A Spanish Philosopher puts it as ‘ The eye is a whole theatre , with its stage and actors .The eyes themselves do not show any emotion, but together with other parts of the face ,they are windows to the soul.’

Our eyes do not only receive impressions of the world around us: they also transmit signals about our innermost feelings to the outside world. We all have been in situations where we have communicated only with our eyes, it could have been making eyes at others , or having winked at your friend ,while wanting to fool other friend present.

Several variations in eye expressions can be observed according to the extent we open our eyelids. Let’s take a look at some of them: Normally open eyelids: The normally open eye can receive all incoming images. We see everything without any critical distinction.

Eyes opened wide: These eyes try to take in as much as possible from the surroundings as a reaction to a feeling of joy, fright , surprise, amazement .We also open our eyes wide after a sudden or unexpected happening .A warning look accompanied by wide –open eyes signify reprimand.

Eyes Closed: Such eyes signal that no outer impressions are wanted .They show the need for  some isolation and contemplation to think about something .When we wish to enjoy sensory  or intellectual stimuli like food  or music our eyes shut automatically.

Eyes screwed up : This is in response to unwanted irritations from outside, that could be purely physical. We also screw up our eyes when we experience or imagine unpleasant feelings like fear, reluctance, displeasure.

    I do not like this..

Blinking: Rapid and repetitive involuntary movement of the eyelids. This could again be a reflex action to get dust off your eyes. But it could also convey embarrassment , insecurity . Also it is observed that people tend to blink more than normal when they lie.

An exchange of glances between two people reveals the character having the upper hand in a conversation . In principle, the stronger personality creates eye contact more quickly, more often and more persistently. You can also find out that:

1 Those who look away when speaking are un sure of their opinion or its reception.

2 Those who look at others can support the validity of their statements and appear more confident.

3 Those who look at the floor are overcautious and try to avoid new ideas, experience or risks.

4 The popular person within a group, maintains high level of eye contact.

5 An open look comes from an open person.An interesting study on Gaze and Aversion by Argyle and Cook, reveal the type of personality and the attitude of speaker and listener at that moment. Their study revealed that :

Females gaze more than males.

Adults gaze more than adolescents.

Supervisors gaze more than subordinates.

Arabs gaze more than Westerners or the Japanese.

Staring at someone for a long period of time is considered to be impolite and rude.It is observed that Indians stare more than westerners.

Messages by nose and mouth:

Wrinkling the nose: Clearly depicts reluctance ,displeasure , aversion or disgust. However, the defence is passive, the signal is that the other person has already agreed to suffer something.

  I detest this.

Flared nostrils: This is typically an accompaniment of eyes wide open and stand for serious/severe anger, disgust it is an expression of unpleasant emotions.

   You better listen.

One’s lips can be expressive even when they don’t say a word. Silent lips adopt a variety of postures that reveal a wide range of emotions.

Lips pressed : This position of lips clearly indicates that the person disagrees .It is clear that the discussion is over.
Lips pursed : They are a sign of disapproval, that the person concerned has fixed views and nothing you say will change them. Self - important people usually   purse lips.

Biting your lips: Reveals embarrassment or a lack of self-confidence .In order to prevent rash words people control themselves by biting their lips. We also unknowingly tend to bite lips when we try to think very hard to say something.

 Control your speech.

With a laugh and a smile:

We have all heard the famous Jagjit Singh ghazal , where excessive forced  smiling  is  claimed to have hidden inner turmoil . Most of us must have experienced this at some point in time. It is said that   ’ Laugh and the whole world laughs with you’.
Just carry out  a small experiment  :Imagine being insulted by one of your seniors at the work place ,to the extent of tears having welled up .But you hold back your tears and after the argument is over just try to  SMILE ,it might even sound difficult at the first shot ,but if you just wipe your tears and force yourself to smile, you will observe your whole approach to the situation changes .Try doing this whenever you face a difficult situation in life, a smile can really be uplifting. 

Even an infant laughs and smiles , when it is warm , well –fed and generally content. A smile is thus rightly called a curve that can set any wrong right. Laughter can be classified as follows:

Ha-Ha laughter: This type of laughter is free , open and hearty. It is open- hearted laughter.However, even this should be used/done with discretion, as it is said that’ a fool is known by his laughter’.

He-He laughter: This is usually laughing at somebody , something. This is condescending  ;the tone is mocking and challenging.

Ho - Ho laughter: This conveys surprise and disbelief in what one has heard .It is usually connected with a tendency to express critical astonishment , protest or even challenge.

The Smirk: Smirking is a form of laughter with lips pressed together , expressing a certain resoluteness .A certain degree of mischief and joy of observing others make a smirk. The source of amusement is only known to the smirker.